The National Union of Journalists has hit out at competition regulators for taking “no action” over newspaper closures it claims have dented media plurality in parts of the UK.
It comes after Trinity mirror closed titles OneMK in Milton Keynes, Luton on Sunday and the Northampton Herald and Post last week following an announcement in October.
In a letter to the Competition and Markets Authority the union said the closures would“diminish plurality and competition and damage the interests of readers and the wider public”.
It said Trinity Mirror’s decision to shut the publications – resulting in six editorial staff losing their jobs – was made “without consultation”
The union added: “The announcement about shutting the titles was made as a fait accompli. There has been no public consultation with stakeholders, businesses, readers or staff.
“The titles have not been put up for sale. No other potentially interested party has had the opportunity to come forward or bid.
“There has been no opportunity to review the impact of the decision on editorial and business plurality, competition, public interest and the democratic deficit.
“The closure creates a monopoly for Johnston Press in Northants. This will be the only outlet for local newspaper advertising in print and online.”
The NUJ said Trinity Mirror had been “making editorial cuts and closing titles” since buying up Local World titles as part of a £220m deal last year.
The deal was investigated by the CMA, but it decided not to intervene. The union has called for the situation to be reviewed in light of the recent closures.
Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said: “The closure of these titles is a travesty.
“Trinity Mirror, and other publishers, will continue to act with impunity unless they are properly investigated by the organisations which are supposed to hold them to account.
“The Competition and Markets Authority should stop dragging its feet while titles continue to be allowed to shut down, dangerously diminishing plurality in our local media.
“It is just not good enough.”
A Trinity Mirror spokesperson said: “We took the difficult decision to close three free weekly titles in Luton, Milton Keynes and Northampton as part of a review of our portfolio, and after a full consultation with the staff affected.
“The print and advertising markets face ongoing challenges which all publishers must respond to. Nobody cares more about the long term health and sustainability of the regional media industry than us.
“In the Bedfordshire region we are not exiting the market. We are increasing the focus on Bedfordshire on Sunday, increasing its distribution into Luton, and broadening its online coverage.”